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The world of tech is exploding like never before — and breaking into it for the career we’ve all been dreaming of is in the back of many people’s minds. As our world becomes more technical, the desire to achieve great things within the tech industry continues to be more and more relevant. Today, there is more of an emphasis on learning computer science at a younger age, and coding schools are popping up just about everywhere. But is coding really the only key to success when breaking into the technology space? It shouldn’t be. Let’s figure out just how you might get yourself into the coveted tech industry.

Lay the Groundwork

Here at Volusion, we have employees from a wide variety of backgrounds laying the groundwork to eventually make the shift from a non-technical role to a technical one. Many times, transitioning into the technical world has no official manual or tutorial.

There’s a lot to be said for seeing an opportunity in front of you, and taking important steps to advance your career in order to get there. One of our employees stated, “I listened to the people with more experience than me, and I read what I needed to know to perform my job better.”

Another told us, “I made sure that people knew that I knew what I was doing, and that I could be relied on to provide answers when they needed them.”

Both of these employees said they took time outside of traditional work hours to learn Volusion’s software inside and out. Their determination led them outside of the confines of a 9-to-5 job in order to achieve their goals. This effort is almost required when you’re branching out to gain a new skill.

These Volusioneers also mentioned that they frequently asked important questions to our clients to learn from them. Clients are usually willing to share valuable knowledge that not only helps the business evolve, but also helps its employees.

But laying the groundwork really is just the first step. You then have to figure out a way to make yourself standout.

Differentiate Yourself

So, how do you prove your worth? Never underestimate the power of differentiating yourself in the workplace. Many of our employees who have grown into leadership positions said that even while holding individual contributor roles, they tried to lead by example. They treated their position like they were leading a team of people who relied upon them. They managed their clients like valuable coworkers who they could learn from. They knew that embodying their leadership skills early on could take them somewhere in the future.

Another way to look at it: Get really good at your job. The best way to prove you deserve a new challenge is to exceed expectations in your current opportunity. Leaders will take notice.

And finally, stay humble. One employee’s advice is to “remind yourself that no matter how smart you are, you have more to learn.” Knowledge is power, and the more you feed yourself, the better. You will soon be the expert who others come to with questions. Laying the foundation for your future and differentiating yourself in the workplace are certainly imperative. But there’s more to this recipe.

Stay Up to Date

One thing to remember about technology is that it’s always evolving and changing. Staying up to date with where the industry is going is essential. In the technical world, if you’re not ahead of the curve, you’re already behind it. Our employees like to immerse themselves in local technology meetup groups, conferences, social media and blogs.

One employee simply stated, “I try to watch for pending changes in the marketplace that would impact us.”

He truly understands that by keeping himself informed about relevant changes in his industry, he can help shape the future of the company.

Final advice

  1. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom to get where you want to go. That might even mean taking an unpaid internship or a pay cut. Every step in your career is valuable.
  2. Ask questions. Lots of them. One of our employees put it like this, “The only stupid question is the one you didn't ask. Remember, NO ONE knew everything on their first day. They had to ask questions and actively test things.”
  3. Treat every job you hold as an opportunity to learn. One of our Directors said, “For me, sales was not a natural fit for my personality, but I treated it like education. I was getting my bachelors in the platform and industry.”
  4. Show your potential. Take an opportunity to train new coworkers. Network in and outside of your organization. Position yourself an expert in your craft.
The good news about technology is there are now more resources available than ever before for those aspiring to jump into a more technical role. Whether that’s YouTube videos, traditional books, blogs or coding camps, there are endless tools at our disposal. Gaining new technical skills is a great first step, but the second and more complex step is realizing that you will need to go outside of your comfort zone and standard work hours to get there. Only after this will you gain the skills that are increasingly in demand by employers.

Do you have a any thoughts on breaking into the technical industry? Have you done it yourself, or are you in the midst of trying? Feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below!